Overwhelmed by the sheer number of bands playing this year’s Vancouver Folk Fest? Worry not—here are our top picks for six must-see artists at Jericho Beach this year.
July 14, Main Stage, 8:30pm
Longevity aside, the greatest compliment one might pay Calexico in 2023 is that it’s somehow ever more relevant than when Joey Burns and John Convertino first started making music together in the mid-’90s. Somewhere along the line—and especially since the MAGA movement took root—America lost sight of the idea that it’s supposed to be a refuge for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses, especially when it comes to those living south of its border. Starting from a base mix of downbeat Americana and bright-eyed Tejano, Calexico can sound wonderfully weird and art-damaged one minute, and as beautiful as an Arizona sunset the next. And while there’s often a message, it’s smart and subversise enough that you might have to think before you get it.
Medicine Singers featuring Zoon and Yonatan Gat
July 14, Main Stage, 10pm | July 15, South Stage, 5pm
The East Algonquin singing and drumming group unites traditional powwow with a variety of musical styles from psychedelic punk to jazz, creating an enchanting experience unlike any other. The band recently released its self-titled debut with frequent collaborator, Yonatan Gat. The Israeli guitarist will join the Medicine Singers at the Folk Fest, alongside Zoon—the shoegaze project of Anishinaabe artist Daniel Monkman, whose latest record, Bekka Ma’iingan, was longlisted for the Polaris Prize.
July 15, West Stage, 4:15pm
Counting the late David Crosby among their fans, this trio is one to watch. Tiny Habits—comprised of Cinya Khan, Judah Mayowa, and Vancouver’s own Maya Rae—formed in Boston at the Berklee College of Music, and has steadily built an enthusiastic social media following for their beautiful harmonies and gentle acoustic arrangements, often delivered in an intimate setting. The folk pop group just released its debut EP, Tiny Things, and accompanied buzzy singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams on a North American tour earlier this year.
July 15, Main Stage, 7:20pm | July 16, South Stage, 11am
With his distinctive baritone and tender songwriting, Juno-winning William Prince has quickly become a household name. In a statement, he said that his latest album, Stand in the Joy, acknowledges pain, but does not give it power. “What I hope comes through are feelings of love, peace, and strength. The strength to stand in the goodness of what you have, rather than sit in what you have lost.” Alongside his multiple accolades, the musician from Peguis First Nation has collaborated with Buffy Sainte-Marie, opened for Neil Young, and played the Grand Ole Opry.
July 16, West Stage, 2:50pm
Vancouver’s own Jill Barber returns to the Jericho Beach Park stage with a new album in tow. Homemaker, released earlier this year, sees the Juno-nominated singer, songwriter, and musician channel her folk rock roots. Minimal arrangements bring Barber’s honest songwriting and heartfelt voice to the forefront as she sings about the complicated, beautiful, and meaningful work that motherhood entails.
July 16, Main Stage, 8:20pm
Described by LA Weekly as a “uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock,” this sextet takes a modern approach to roots music while honouring the past, integrating traditional Mexican instruments like the requinto jarocho. Las Cafeteras sings in five distinct languages—“English, Spanish, Spanglish, Love, and Justice”—with socially-conscious songs seeking to inspire change.